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Herald Staff's Thanksgiving Memories

Little bundle adds joy to special day of thanks

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Tori and Garrett Keafer with Oliver Thiessen

Tori and Garrett Keafer with Oliver Thiessen

Thanksgiving is one of those times when I feel I’m allowed to ease off the pedal of my hundred-miles-per-hour brain and halt my perpetual mental note-taking. So, while I have happy associations with the holiday, I truthfully don’t remember many in detail. 

However, last year’s celebration is one I won’t forget.

Just a week before, I had been in the hospital with my whole family. We were awaiting the first of a new generation in our family, Oliver Thiessen, my sweet nephew. This was one of many major milestones for me that year. In 2019, I became a college graduate, a full-time reporter, a wife and, just in time for a day of gratitude, an aunt to little baby Ollie.

Thanksgiving felt like silent, morning snowfall outside the window after an exhilarating but too-long party the night before. (Of course, the unsettlingly warm Middle Tennessee November brought no such winter wonderland.) 

I remember saying to my new husband with a long-delayed exhale, “This year has been amazing, but I think I’m ready for a bit of boring in 2020.” How sorry I am that I jinxed it.

The feeling this Thanksgiving, while it looks different from last year’s, is similar — a flop onto the bed after a strenuous day, a gentle stretch after hours hunched over a desk. The feeling of rest and relief has me reminiscing about the time I felt it last, with a tiny, week-old baby in my arms, savoring the seemingly increasing weight of the swaddled newborn until a first-time grandparent, usually my mother, appeared, eager to take him away.

All day, Oliver was passed around from person to person like a gentle game of hot potato, except that the object of the game was to hold onto the potato the longest. It was amazing to see the effect a new life had on the occasion. As everyone held in reverence the little friend, who already displayed hints of his headstrong personality, there was a joy-filled quiet, like that moment just before someone bursts into laughter.

To say this year has been tough is already past the point of cliche, but amid an emotional roller coaster to which we have all but just become numb, I remember the way love for new life wordlessly ushered my family into inexplicable peace last Thanksgiving.

My prayer this year is that our communities find new life within themselves and within each other, putting to rest the contentions and frustrations of 2020 and passing around new bundles of joy for a time of healing. May 2021 be a year of life, and, goodness gracious, may it be boring.

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